Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Idea of Tea

As I sit and gingerly stretch my wrist back and forth, trying to coax motion out of very reluctant tendons, I am reflecting on my yen for tea. What is it about tea that makes me feel so comforted, soothed, and grounded?
I'm not talking about any caffeine-related scientific stimulation or suppression effects. I just mean that feeling you get when you have two hands wrapped around a warm, steaming mug of steeped liquid, whether it's white, black, green, or rooibos.

What is it?

I had an ex-boyfriend who was always annoyed when I put two hands around my cup. He thought it was weird or funny, and would tease me that one of my hands must not have been strong enough to hold the cup. What a thing to mock, right?
Here's a poem from a long-gone Bigelow tea box I keep taped to my cupboard that hints at the essence:
When your day seems topsy-turvy
And as stormy as can be
There’s nothing quite as tranquil
As a nice hot cup of tea.
While you savor this ambrosia
Your problems fade away
Its warmth will bring you comfort
And brighten up your day.
So take a private moment
There’s calmness, as you’ll see
All because you briefly stopped
To sip a cup of tea.
The reason I've held on to this poem for so long (years. several moves.) is that it holds a clue to the sanity we're all seeking in this modern age: Time Out! Stop the World- I'd like to get off! How about a moment to myself, for a change?

With all the digital connectedness we have now, it seems important to take time for our selves-- not internet-surfing, not blog-reading, and not chore-performing. Just thinking about where you are, where you're going, and how you're feeling. A cup of tea facilitates this, and the habit of tea promotes regular introspection, which is a great balance to all the demands on our time from work and social responsibilities.

Do you use tea in this way? Do you have a different tool for your reflective times? Do you feel like you need something like this? Let me know in the comments... current brew as I write: Lemon Basil Oolong from Capital Teas.


  1. I love this post! I recently read a piece by a woman whose family, upon receiving big news of any kind -- whether joyful or distressing -- set the kettle to boil and made tea. There's something about sipping hot tea that makes you stop for a moment and be present, something that makes you reflect on what's happening right now. It's silly that your ex teased you for holding a mug with two hands, because that is the coziest way to hold a hot mug, especially on cold winter days!

    Darren and I are daily coffee drinkers, but on winter evenings we make herbal tea while we enjoy our favorite shows. It's a way to wind down and relax before bed.

  2. When it comes to reflective times ... running is a good one for me too. In the Netherlands, interestingly enough, tea is above all a social thing. We have this word "theeleuten" which means "chatting over a cup of tea". But, I do like to also savor my tea and that you can only do by sitting on your couch and just simply enjoy it. Great post!